"Incredibly light" sentence for driver who killed Sheffield cyclist

John Parkin died on first ride out on new bike

by John Stevenson   April 11, 2014  

Justice (Lonpicman, Wikimedia Commons)

After a driver was jailed for just six months for causing the death of a cyclist by careless driving, cycling charity CTC has again called for longer driving bans for those responsible for deaths on the roads.

Samuel Mason was sentenced to six months in a young offenders institute and banned from driving for 18 months for causing the death by careless driving of John Parkin on May 2, 2013, reports the Sheffield Telegraph.

CTC Road Justice campaigner Rhia Weston said this was “an incredibly light sentence for driving which was considered by the judge to be on the borderline with reckless or dangerous driving.”

Mr Parkin, 42, had just collected a new Colnago bike and was out on its maiden ride when he was hit by a black Toyota driven by Mr Mason, then aged 18.

Mr Parkin owned a car repair business and had ordered the new bike from Sheffield’s Langsett Cycles after getting back into cycling.

Shop owner Andrew Elston told the Sheffield Telegraph: “He had lost a bit of weight and was getting all the benefits,” said Andrew. “But he said he wasn’t going to pick up the new bike until the weather was right.”

The weather was right on May 2, the warmest day of the year, when Mr Parkin took his new bike out into the Peak District.

Mason was driving along the A6013 in the Peak village of Bamford when he passed a parked delivery van and turned into Brentwood Road, hitting Mr Parkin who was riding in the opposite direction.

Mason claimed he had not seen the cyclist, but a driver who was behind him told police she had seen Mr Parkin coming down the hill. Witnesses described Mason as looking impatient.

Mason pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at Derby Crown Court and must take an extended test before driving again.

In a statement, Mr Parkin’s wife Karen said: “John wasn’t just my husband, he was my best friend. We were so in love, and there wasn’t a day gone by when we didn’t say it or show it to each other.

“Our son James had just turned 21 in April and John was so proud of him. I feel so lost without him it feels like I died on May 2. I want the accused to know what they have taken from us. They will never get our forgiveness. They didn’t just take my husband and James’ dad, they took us as well.”

Judge John Pini QC told Mason : “I do not regard this as a momentary inattention, nearer to reckless risk taking. Mr Parkin was visible for 57 metres from where you were. Your miscalculation cost him his life. In the pre-sentence report there is not one single word of remorse or one expression of sympathy for the family of the deceased.”

On hearing news of Mr Parkin’s death, Colnago donated a bike which was raffled at last year’s Claremont Sheffield Grand Prix in aid of his family’s chosen charity, Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland Air Ambulance.

CTC Road Justice campaigner Rhia Weston said: “This is an incredibly light sentence for driving which was considered by the judge to be on the borderline with reckless or dangerous driving. When the offence of ‘causing death by careless driving’ falls not far short of dangerous driving, judges can impose anything between six months and three years custody.

“The order to sit an extended re-test is not mandatory for this offence so it is encouraging that the judge ordered one in this case, but this should have been accompanied by a much longer driving ban.

“CTC’s Road Justice campaign is calling for much greater use of re-education, substantial driving bans and other non-custodial sentences to be used when sentencing drivers for similar offences.”

31 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

We really need to see some lifetime bans, proper long prison sentences and at the very least more re-tests and extended tests being given out. It's beyond my comprehension that manslaughter is dealt with in a magistrates court like this.
CTC really need to push harder, not one thing they've asked for or recommended has ever actually happened to my knowledge.
Next dead cyclist please?

posted by Belaroo [44 posts]
11th April 2014 - 12:54

24 Likes

stop de kindermoord

something has to change!!!!!

How many people have to die before something is done about the real danger on the roads.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1102 posts]
11th April 2014 - 13:05

21 Likes

57 metres is not a very great distance, but one would definitely think it would give some reaction time
....It was an accident possibly caused by inexperience and poor judgement on the driver's behalf...we don't have much detail from this report

...but 'single word posts' such as that above by 'anarchy'...don't really do much in the way of anything constructive...or add anything to any debates on sentencing etc, or articles in general...

The_Kaner
FREEEEEEEEDOM!

The _Kaner's picture

posted by The _Kaner [434 posts]
11th April 2014 - 13:11

6 Likes

What happened to the governments review of sentencing for cases like this, which I think was promised to be happening early this year?

More hollow words Mr Cameron?
did it not happen or did the car obsessed members of the panel see no point in changing anything 'cos it's only cyclist after all?

So Sad
RIP

posted by 29erKeith [20 posts]
11th April 2014 - 13:54

10 Likes

@ The _Kaner - The driver behind him saw the cyclist before the accident, no excuses for the idiot who killed 'cos he was too impatient. He should have a much longer driving ban imo

posted by 29erKeith [20 posts]
11th April 2014 - 13:56

13 Likes

Belaroo wrote:
We really need to see some lifetime bans, proper long prison sentences and at the very least more re-tests and extended tests being given out. It's beyond my comprehension that manslaughter is dealt with in a magistrates court like this.
CTC really need to push harder, not one thing they've asked for or recommended has ever actually happened to my knowledge.
Next dead cyclist please?

CTC can 'push' all it likes. David Cameron will take the paper on which their 'begging letter' is written, and he'll wipe the shit off his arse with it.

'It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning' (Henry Ford)

cyclingDMlondon's picture

posted by cyclingDMlondon [223 posts]
11th April 2014 - 14:01

11 Likes

29erKeith wrote:
@ The _Kaner - The driver behind him saw the cyclist before the accident, no excuses for the idiot who killed 'cos he was too impatient. He should have a much longer driving ban imo

He shouldn't ever hold a license again IMO.

posted by Chuck [381 posts]
11th April 2014 - 14:57

9 Likes

Why do these sorts of stories always mention the CTC near the top? I don't mean to be rude but I'm not sure their reaction is worth reporting if reporting of it goes no further than cycling blogs. You may as well write a story about my reaction to the sentencing.

posted by vbvb [243 posts]
11th April 2014 - 15:34

7 Likes

Anyone who hits a cyclist and are at fault should never be allowed to drive again. It's not a human right.

18 months? I blink and 18 months passes me by.

YorkshireMike's picture

posted by YorkshireMike [73 posts]
11th April 2014 - 15:39

9 Likes

I am at loss to understand this sentence. The sentencing guidelines for causing death by careless driving are a starting point of 15 months then adjusted by aggravating or mitigating factors. The only mitigating factor on the guidelines is his youth and inexperience. Aggravating factors are a plenty. Lack of remorse is an aggravating factor. Just those two cancel eachother out. 15 months is tha actual guidline sentence here. How come six months?

I hope that this sentence is appealed. Even by the low guideline sentences standards this sentence was just wrong.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [621 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:06

10 Likes

vbvb wrote:
Why do these sorts of stories always mention the CTC near the top? I don't mean to be rude but I'm not sure their reaction is worth reporting if reporting of it goes no further than cycling blogs. You may as well write a story about my reaction to the sentencing.

Because they are the leading cycling organisation and they have a legal department that specialises and a campaign running to get the law changed. They are the experts my friend.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [621 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:08

12 Likes

mrmo wrote:

How many people have to die before something is done about the real danger on the roads.

only 1 or 2 but sadly they'll have to be the relation of a judge or politician.
us regular people dont really count.

posted by mrchrispy [292 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:11

10 Likes

There should be no such thing as causing death by dangerous driving, careless driving, or any other kind of driving. It's either manslaughter or murder. Driving a car doesn't make it something else.

493rd in GC Fantasy TdF 2014

posted by Sanderville [214 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:19

8 Likes

29erKeith wrote:
What happened to the governments review of sentencing for cases like this, which I think was promised to be happening early this year?

More hollow words Mr Cameron?
did it not happen or did the car obsessed members of the panel see no point in changing anything 'cos it's only cyclist after all?

So Sad
RIP

The Sentencing Council is independent of Government. It's not run by Mr Cameron. PMs can't click their fingers and make the judiciary jump. Nor should they be able to. If they can then you don't live in a democracy. That's the constitution.

There is a sentncing review. The Sentencing Council has decided that this offence and that of Causing Death by Dangerous Dricing are not part of the review.

Facts are boring but sometimes a few of them help you in making sensible comments. That goes for you too cyclingDMlondon.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [621 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:20

8 Likes

oozaveared wrote:
29erKeith wrote:
What happened to the governments review of sentencing for cases like this, which I think was promised to be happening early this year?

More hollow words Mr Cameron?
did it not happen or did the car obsessed members of the panel see no point in changing anything 'cos it's only cyclist after all?

So Sad
RIP

The Sentencing Council is independent of Government. It's not run by Mr Cameron. PMs can't click their fingers and make the judiciary jump. Nor should they be able to. If they can then you don't live in a democracy. That's the constitution.

There is a sentncing review. The Sentencing Council has decided that this offence and that of Causing Death by Dangerous Dricing are not part of the review.

Facts are boring but sometimes a few of them help you in making sensible comments. That goes for you too cyclingDMlondon.

Seems an odd definition of democracy to require that our elected representatives should have no say in how criminals are punished, and it should be left to judges and lawyers to decide. Feels more like the reverse of democracy to me - how do non lawyers ever get to influence the decisions, or do you think we just should leave it all to them as knows best?

posted by oldstrath [146 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:36

6 Likes

How can we possibly convince the average judge, who probably regards a driving licence almost as an essential "passport" to existence, that life without a car is not such a big deal? The answer is to take the decision away from judges completely, by making a lifetime ban mandatory.

People do end up killing other road users, even if it isn't their intention when they woke up that day, but if everyone knows that a death means an automatic ban, regardless of the mitigating circumstances, I suspect that drivers would be much more careful when they're behind the wheel.

If cyclists really want to achieve that goal, then this is the argument you must put forward, consistently and cohesively.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
11th April 2014 - 18:52

9 Likes

Motorised vehicles, the perfect murder weapon.

The OP on this comments section sums up the judiciary to perfection.

posted by IanW1968 [170 posts]
11th April 2014 - 19:42

2 Likes

It is a strange quirk of the law that offences almost identical to those committed by a defendant on foot, or using any other type of machinery, have an entirely different nomenclature.

Walk closely behind someone and follow them along the street and you'd likely get fingered for threatening behaviour, but do it with a motor vehicle?

Push someone around with physical contact and that's assault, unless of course you get inside a car and do it (as many cyclists will attest)

Kill someone in a workshop or on a construction site, when using any piece of machinery and, providing there is no clear intent behind the act, the charge is manslaughter - clear and simple (with intent the charge is murder) Why then do we have to have a 'special' sort of graded manslaughter charges when the assailant is using a motor vehicle. A great deal of time and effort, not to mention distress to those close to the victim arises from the wavering of CPS and PFS over what category of charge to bring, if any that relates to the undeniable fact that the defendant by their presence and use of a motor vehicle has caused the death of another person.

Perhaps the greatest reform we can seek in motoring law is to remove any case where the action of the driver or rider of any vehicle has caused the death of another, from the rolls of motoring law, and use the single simple charge of manslaughter for an action without proven intent when the defendant has extinguished the life of another.

Who is up for that as a campaign?

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [483 posts]
11th April 2014 - 20:13

13 Likes

oldstrath wrote:
oozaveared wrote:
29erKeith wrote:
What happened to the governments review of sentencing for cases like this, which I think was promised to be happening early this year?

More hollow words Mr Cameron?
did it not happen or did the car obsessed members of the panel see no point in changing anything 'cos it's only cyclist after all?

So Sad
RIP

The Sentencing Council is independent of Government. It's not run by Mr Cameron. PMs can't click their fingers and make the judiciary jump. Nor should they be able to. If they can then you don't live in a democracy. That's the constitution.

There is a sentncing review. The Sentencing Council has decided that this offence and that of Causing Death by Dangerous Dricing are not part of the review.

Facts are boring but sometimes a few of them help you in making sensible comments. That goes for you too cyclingDMlondon.

Seems an odd definition of democracy to require that our elected representatives should have no say in how criminals are punished, and it should be left to judges and lawyers to decide. Feels more like the reverse of democracy to me - how do non lawyers ever get to influence the decisions, or do you think we just should leave it all to them as knows best?

Democracy 101 for you then. Elected representatives make the law. They set out the rules. The judiciary are charged with applying those rules fairly and consistently. The reason why you keep politicians away from that function is to make sure they don't just ride the popular wave and dish out punishments to certain people based on what will make them popular with the public at the time.

Imagine a football match where the referee made decisions not on what he saw and an honest applications of the laws of the game and followed the refereeing guidelines so that all matches were refereed to a similar interpretation of the laws. Imagine instead that the ref was more interested in keeping the home crowd happy.

Does that explain to you why it might be a bad idea for politicians to remain at arms length from the process?

The idea is a pretty ancient one going back to Roman and Greek systems. It's called the separation of powers. The powers concerned are

1 To make law
2 To apply the law
3 To run the country according to the law.

The executive (the actual government) runs the country according to the law.
Parliament makes the law (that the government uses to run the country)
the judiciary applies the law (even to the government).

No one part of the state has all the power. When one part of the state has all the power we call that a dictatorship.

Let's say Mr Cameron could also make the law on his own without Parliament. He might pass a law to ban opposition parties. Let's say he had Mr Milliband arrested on a spurious charge. If he controlled the judges then Mr Milliband wouldn't get a fair trial. See?

With separation of powers he can't do that. He'd have to get a law passed in Parliament. And if he tried to do it without it being lawful then the judiciary would be in his way.

This is all neatly summed up in the question cited in latin. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Who guards the guardians? What stops the state being all powerful and oppressive? The answer is the separation of powers.

It's not perfect but it beats the hell out of most other systems.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [621 posts]
11th April 2014 - 20:44

5 Likes

"Separation of Powers" is not something this country has traditionally practiced, mind you. Its more of a US thing (though even there it sometimes seems more theoretical than practical, e.g. Presidents being able to issue pardons to their pals, something which seems to ride roughshod over the supposed distinction between executive and judicial branches).

In this country the PM exercises authority in the name of the Crown. Its why he can take us to war without a parliamentary vote, for example. Here we have always had more of an elected dictatorship. Especially if the majority in the Commons is in accord with the built-in vested interests of the Lords.

Of course with the EU, European Court and the European human rights act its all gotten quite a bit more US-like, by giving more power to the judiciary. But its still not resolved - look at what happened with the workfare ruling - the government responded by just changing the law.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [679 posts]
11th April 2014 - 20:52

7 Likes

What really concerns me with all these calls for retribution is that it won't bring him back and avoids the glaring reality that he took up road cycling again and is now dead.

In hindsight, would his widow think his new bike and his maiden run worth it?

Had he been in a car then no doubt just bent metal and not even police called. That is the kind of thing courts and judges are employed to consider. Best leave sentencing to the experts.

Road safety 'experts' are often folk who's CV doesn't cut the mustard.

posted by Sedgepeat [64 posts]
11th April 2014 - 21:05

6 Likes

So why didn't the judge impose the harshest sentence he could? Doesn't look like he did.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [303 posts]
11th April 2014 - 22:35

3 Likes

Sedgepeat wrote:

Had he been in a car then no doubt just bent metal and not even police called. That is the kind of thing courts and judges are employed to consider. Best leave sentencing to the experts.

And had the driver who hit him not been in a car, how much damage could he have done? Why are you only focusing on the vehicle of the party who didn't cause the accident?
This guy took up driving and now someone else is dead.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [679 posts]
11th April 2014 - 22:59

15 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
"Separation of Powers" is not something this country has traditionally practiced, mind you. Its more of a US thing (though even there it sometimes seems more theoretical than practical, e.g. Presidents being able to issue pardons to their pals, something which seems to ride roughshod over the supposed distinction between executive and judicial branches).

In this country the PM exercises authority in the name of the Crown. Its why he can take us to war without a parliamentary vote, for example. Here we have always had more of an elected dictatorship. Especially if the majority in the Commons is in accord with the built-in vested interests of the Lords.

Of course with the EU, European Court and the European human rights act its all gotten quite a bit more US-like, by giving more power to the judiciary. But its still not resolved - look at what happened with the workfare ruling - the government responded by just changing the law.

separation of powers is a UK thing. starting with Magna Carta making the executive subject to the law. The US builds on that system and they had the chance to create a neater version on a clean sheet. We have a couple of quirks like crown perogative but the judiciary has reigned that in quite well over the years.
See
Attorney General v De Keyser's Royal Hotel Ltd 1920
Laker Airway v Dept. of Trade 1977
R v Secy of State for the Home Dept. exparte Fire Brigades Union & others
1995

nice to have a fellow constitution wonk and fellow cyclist to chat with.

btw Government can't change the law. Parliament changes the law. And it proves the point. The Government could not act outside the law. The judiciary prevented them. It found they acted beyond their powers. If they wanted to act in that way they would need to get Parliament to change the law.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [621 posts]
11th April 2014 - 23:20

7 Likes

The _Kaner wrote:
57 metres is not a very great distance, but one would definitely think it would give some reaction time
....It was an accident possibly caused by inexperience and poor judgement .

You would hope so. That's double the braking distance at 30. The guy has passed a parked vehicle to make a sharp right turn into a narrow side street. There's good visibility. And he is also about to pass a school. (Have a look at street view). Would he have pulled the same stunt if it was a car coming in the opposite direction.

I am trying to get my head round both the sentence as well as the charge brought about by the CPS. The sooner there is a standard manslaughter charge for any death caused on the roads by motorist/cyclist the better. I think then we would see a marked improvement in road skills by all.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1053 posts]
12th April 2014 - 0:03

6 Likes

@oozaveared

Sorry, deleted my reply because its hugely long and entirely off-topic!
short version:
I don't entirely agree with you, but clearly the sentencing review (which I'd not previously heard of!) is not directly down to Cameron (though if the government wanted to make it a priority to reform the whole system it could -though these days it would probably be quite a big struggle)

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [679 posts]
12th April 2014 - 0:25

3 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Sedgepeat wrote:

Had he been in a car then no doubt just bent metal and not even police called. That is the kind of thing courts and judges are employed to consider. Best leave sentencing to the experts.

And had the driver who hit him not been in a car, how much damage could he have done? Why are you only focusing on the vehicle of the party who didn't cause the accident?

Because Sedgepeat is the resident pet troll.

posted by jacknorell [384 posts]
12th April 2014 - 1:09

11 Likes

Another travesty of justice. Something HAS to be done about this. Again we ask: what if the killer had used a knife or gun? Thoughts go to the family. They must feel doubly betrayed.

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

jmaccelari's picture

posted by jmaccelari [155 posts]
12th April 2014 - 6:50

2 Likes

I see lots of claims for lifetime driving bans??

Will this really fix things, idiots like this will then just drive without license. I doubt this guy made a point of hitting the cyclist more that he's a bad driver with a bad attitude and the cyclist was the unlucky recipient.
Longer sentences required and a way of educating these lads of the danger of their recklessness
Again, very sad situation mixed with poor decision from judge.

posted by SB76 [80 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:30

2 Likes

C**t

posted by anarchy [59 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:46

62 Likes